Rafsanjani reacts to Alavi seizure

Nov. 19, 2009 at 1:27 PM
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TEHRAN, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The United States and its allies know full well that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said.

"The U.S. and the West are well aware that the Islamic republic of Iran has no interest of achieving nuclear weapons," he said.

Rafsanjani made his comments during a meeting with Magnus Wernstedt, the Swedish envoy to Tehran, the Iranian Students' News Agency reports. The former president was reacting to a decision by U.S. authorities to seize a building in New York City following allegations the site was used to launder money for a covert Iranian nuclear program.

U.S. prosecutors in December 2008 moved to seize the 40 percent stake of the Assa Corp., an alleged front for Iran's Bank Meli. Washington suspects the bank is funneling money to Tehran to support a nuclear weapon program in Iran.

The latest filings Nov. 12 allege the properties were involved in money-laundering offenses and accuse the owners of violating U.S. Treasury Department regulations on economic dealings with Iran.

The Alavi Foundation describes itself as a non-profit organization promoting charitable and philanthropic causes in the United States that promote Islamic culture and Persian language, literature and civilization.

Rafsanjani warned that such punitive measures only encourage Iran to continue its legal right to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program.

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